Cirsium rivulareÂ ‘Atropurpureum’ is one of those fabulous ‘must have’ plants! Although related to common garden thistles, this is not a self-seeding weed, but a tall, strong stemmed herbaceous perennial, which just gets better year on year! The flower stems multiply quickly, and rise from large basal rosettes in spring! The foliage is a little prickly, unlike the flowers which are soft, and can become a bit tatty – but this is easily remedied, and cutting the foliage back whilst doing a bit of deadheading to spent flowers, will keep the plant looking good and help to produce more and more flowers throughout the season!
Although it is now October, this Cirsium (in a pot) has decided to flower – luckily for me, as I didn’t take any pictures of my large specimens in the garden! Another little job for next year then! Bees, butterflies and hoverflies adore this plant as much as I do!
Rivulare means ‘growing by a stream’ so a little clue as to the type of soil it prefers – moist and rich, and full sun if you have it! Will also grow in part shade, if that is all you can offer! Although it can grow to 4 or 5′ tall, it doesn’t necessarily have to go to the back of a border as you can see through it! You can position beside or in front of a tall shrub or tree with dark foliage, (to good effect) e.g. Physocarpus op. ‘Lady in Red’ or Sambucus nigra ‘Black Lace’which shows of the magenta-red blooms nicely, and underplant with later flowering Asters, or whatever takes your fancy – just grow one – you’ll love it!